5 Things You Should Know About The Short Tax Return

Are your tax affairs straightforward?

If so, you may be eligible to fill in the short tax return.  This is a four page alternative to a standard UK tax return.  Read our guide to find out if you are eligible and how it works.

1. It is five years old

Until 2005, everyone who had to complete a tax return had to complete the standard, long tax return form.

In April 2005, HMRC decided to introduce a Short Tax Return (the SA200 form) for people who did have to self assess, but who had tax affairs that were more straightforward.

Whilst recipients of the short tax return may elect not to use it (and complete a main return instead) the option has been available to certain people for five years.

2. It will be sent to you automatically

You cannot request or elect to complete a short tax return by yourself.  The short tax return will be sent to you by HMRC if you qualify.  It is a four page form and will be sent to you with accompanying guidance notes.

You cannot self select to use a short tax return form.

3. It is only for certain people

The short tax return was introduced specifically for people whose tax affairs were more straightforward, and who did not need to go through the rigmarole of completing a large return.

Examples of people who typically qualify for a short tax return are:

  • Employees
  • Self employed people with a turnover under £30,000
  • Pensioners

Company directors are very rarely eligible to fill out the short tax return.

HMRC decides whether you are eligible for the short tax return based on the information provided in your previous year’s tax return.  However, the onus is on the recipient to determine whether they are actually eligible to use the form, having read the guidance notes.

4. It is not available online

The short tax return cannot be submitted online.  As it is sent to eligible people directly by HMRC, it is a paper based form.

You cannot download a short tax return from the HMRC website and you cannot order one from the HMRC order line.

Remember that you should not use correcting fluid on a paper based tax return and you should keep your entries within the boxes.  Don’t cross through boxes that do not apply to you.

5. You will need similar records to the full tax return

The records you will need to complete the short return are similar to the ones you will need for the core pages of the full tax return.  These include:

  • UK taxable income
  • UK savings and investments
  • UK benefits, pensions and annuities

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